Qantas recently added children’s inflight sleeping accessories to its list of prohibited items, and it hasn’t gone down well with parents.
The airline, as well as its budget airline Jetstar, have stopped allowing parents to bring accessories on board that:
- attach to aircraft seats;
- are inserted between seats; or
- otherwise block access to seat rows or aisles
This basically includes the likes of ‘bed boxes’ and ‘leg hammocks’, which help kids to catch some shuteye and prevents them from being overtired, rowdy little things that disrupt other passengers.
So naturally, there’s a few ‘not happy Jan’ rants going on.
One of the companies hoping for a change of policy at Qantas is Plane Pal, which makes custom designed inflatable cushion that fills the space between your child’s seat and the seat in front.
Founder Samantha Cardone claims major international carriers like Etihad and Singapore Airlines could “reap the rewards of fresh bookings from parents disgruntled with Qantas and Jetstar over uncertainty as to whether they will or won’t allow child travel accessories on flights.
“Do Qantas and Jetstar now prefer screaming kids to sleeping angels?” she asked.
The restrictions ban products like PlanePal, Fly Tots Bed Box and Fly Legs Up, popular ‘parental lifesavers’ especially on long-haul flights, meaning children can more easily get comfortable and sleep.
“We have been inundated with messages from families frustrated with Australian airlines Qantas & Jetstar,” said Cardone.
“Many are choosing other global airlines that do permit devices that make travel enjoyable for children, parents and fellow passengers.
“Parents are confused by the inconsistency between policy and experience. Qantas and Jetstar say such devices are on their prohibited items lists yet their policy leaves a giant question mark stating, ultimately, it is the cabin crew who can decide to permit the use of these items.
As a result of the policy, carriers that officially approve PlanePal are gaining valuable reputations as ‘family-friendly’ airlines.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 5, 2017
“We are thrilled many major international carriers accept PlanePals like Air France, Etihad & Lufthansa,” Cardone added.
“Singapore Airlines is a real stand out. Their commitment to improving family travel is really admirable and we have found that customers will choose Singapore Air over other airlines who have yet to approve our product.”
Like the airlines, Cardone says safety is paramount.
“We are a family-run business – started for families – and safety is PlanePal’s number one priority.
“Our product is specifically designed to deflate in less than five seconds. PlanePals can be quickly stowed during taxi, take-off and landing, in case of emergency or for access to seats and aisles.
“We strongly recommend the inflatable travel cushion only be used in window seats or the middle seats of centre seat banks.
“We also advise our customers to only inflate a Planepal once seatbelt signs are turned off, and seatbelts are of course always recommended throughout the flight. Safety always comes first.”
Travel Agent Stephanie Gasking of Travel-S claimed several of her family clients who love PlanePal are flying with alternative airlines to the ‘flying kangaroo’ as a result of the confusion over allowing inflatable feet rests for kids.
One family has even decided to fly Fiji Air over Qantas expressly because of the policy.
“In the past few months families have realised what an amazing option they have and are always keen to know which airlines they can use the Planepal on.
“Knowing that an airline supports use of the PlanePal directly influences our clients’ decisions on who to fly with,” said Gasking.
Cardone added, “I have been that mother desperately rocking a screaming child whilst pacing the aisle.
“I have also been the mother pinned under twin sleeping toddlers for 6 hours straight, with dead legs and a desperate need to visit the bathroom. I am not sure which was worse.”